After four long and terrifying years, an Oregon couple deemed intellectually unfit to raise their children have regained custody of their two young sons.
A Deschutes County judge ruled this month that Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler can parent both their boys. Four-year-old Christopher, who has been in foster care since he was a few days old, will be transitioned into living with his biological parents so as not to traumatize him.
Eleven-month-old Hunter, who was also taken from his parents days after his birth, was returned to the couple in December, just in time for Christmas.
As part of the couple’s custody case, they were given IQ tests. An average IQ ranges from 90 to 110. She scored 72 and he earned 66.
“I guess they’re thinking that because our IQs are so low, they don’t think we’re smart enough,” Amy Fabbrini told InsideEdition.com late last year.
“I don’t think that IQ has anything to do with raising your kids,” she said. “The only thing that should matter … is that you love them, you’re able to support them and that you’re just there for them and their needs. And I can do that.”
The children were removed by child welfare workers after someone complained the parents weren’t attentive enough. Once Oregon’s Child Protective Services got involved, the couple said they felt they were lost in a convoluted system they didn’t understand.
Circuit Judge Bethany Flint determined there was insufficient evidence to show the couple were incapable of raising their sons. According to Amy’s court-appointed attorney, Jamie Gerlitz, child welfare workers cited minor parenting deficiencies including not reading enough to their sons during supervised visits, giving or taking away treats as a method of discipline and alternating who played with the boys during their five-hour visits at a state office.
“It was just micro-criticisms of their parenting,” Gerlitz told InsideEdition.com Monday. “They were things ordinary people do on a daily basis.”
The children’s services agency presented 27 witnesses, Gerlitz said, and “no one discussed any safety issues,” she said.
“I think a lot of people looked at this case and said ‘Oh, this is their IQ level, so of course they can’t be good parents … It created a perfect storm that centered on that number,” Gerlitz said.
Sherrene Hagenbach, the couple’s advocate, has been helping them since the very beginning, when she was a volunteer observer for Amy and Eric’s supervised visits with their children.
“All they’ve wanted is to have their own family,” she told InsideEdition.com. “So I’m ecstatic that this family can move forward … The greatest thing is that Christopher seems so resilient to what’s going on. Hunter’s smile lights up a room. He is such an easy baby. He’s happy. He sees mommy and daddy and smiles huge, with all four teeth showing.”